2015 Phillies Report Card: Freddy Galvis
Early in the year, “Broadcaster” Mike Schmidt was talking about his time as “Spring Training Guest Instructor” Mike Schmidt, when he, “Unreasonable Optimist” Mike Schmidt, set a goal for “Guy Who Has To Follow Jimmy Rollins” Freddy Galvis to reach 200 hits in 2015. I, in my role as “Wet Blanket” Brad Engler, thought that was about the dumbest thing I had ever heard.
Throughout spring training, in an effort by Then-Manager Ryne Sandberg and Bench Coach Larry Bowa to get him to make more contact, hit more line drives and not swing for the fences as much, Freddy Galvis was asked to use a heavier bat – a Louisville Slugger Model U-1 – the 35”, 33oz. bat that Bowa used during his playing days. Galvis claimed the bat helped him a great deal, and he hit a respectable .294 with a .721 OPS in a small sample of meaningless Grapefruit League games. Then three games into the regular season, he switched back to his old, shorter, lighter bat, because success is dumb, I guess, and he wound up having another fairly disappointing year at the plate, posting a wOBA of .283, and a wRC+ of 76, or 24% below the league average. This was a sizable improvement on his terrible 2014, where he spent so much of his big league time on the bench, unable to adjust to irregular PAs. He ended 2015 year posting 0.4 bWAR/1.3 fWAR in what was his first big league season over 222 PAs. He netted a total of 147 hits in his 603 PAs.
For the record, Galvis stated that the U-1 was hindering his ability to get around of big fastballs, hence the switch back. Also for the record, had Galvis managed to keep up his Spring Training average over a full 700PA season, and kept his regular season ~5% BB rate, he would have ended the year with 194 hits. So not quite the 200 knocks that “Nearly-Reasonable Prognosticator” Mike Schmidt suggested, but pretty close.
But at what cost did Galvis manage to put up these slightly better but still pretty bad batting numbers? At the cost of the little bit of power he had been able to display in short stints in the bigs in years prior. Coming into the year, his career ISO sat at .144 over 550 PAs. In 2015, he ISOed a paltry .081. So while he did reach base a little more, and struck out a little less, he hit for far less power, leading his OPS to only float less than 10 points higher than his previous career total. That’s a lot of change for a little result. Galvis certainly improved over his very bad and injury-plagued 2014, but the detail I remember from his season was when he hit a game-tying tenth inning home run off of Nats’ Closer Jonathan Papelbon, (still feels good to say any other team in that phrase), much as his previous career offensive highlight was the huge walk-off bomb he hit off of Aroldis Chapman in May of 2013. I would personally rather we see the heroic Galvis with a little bit of pop that the boring line-drive Galvis who gets you about the same total offense anyway.
So WAR says Galvis’ defense and base running helped him to be about a 0.5-1.5 win player, and there’s no sense tossing him overboard for that. But I, (and I would guess, way out on this limb, that I am not alone here), personally can’t wait to write in J.P. Crawford’s name over Galvis’ as soon as the youngster is ready for his shot. I’d guess Galvis will get at least a couple months to maybe build a little trade value at short, or he’ll combine to hit enough and defend second base more effectively than either Cesar Hernandez, Andres Blanco or Darnell Sweeney. If not, out of minor league options, his job will be in serious jeopardy. The plus side for the club – he fell well short of the Super-Two service time marker to hit arbitration this offseason, so there’s a chance he’ll add enough value for the club to keep him around for a while on the bench. Unfortunately, if his 2014 is any indication, that’s not a role that is guaranteed to suit him.
Grade: C- Galvis improved over an inconsistent but mostly bad 2014, but continued to show himself to be a flawed offensive player. He can certainly continue his career as a utility player, but a top-shelf shortstop remains out of reach of his current skill set.